We've only been homeschooling for one month but throughout the journey toward the First Missed-First Day-of-School-and-Run-To-The-Bus-Stop, I became certain that we would identify our "style" of homeschooling as "Holistic Eclectic"... What does that mean??
My friend (and the person who coined the term,) LakeSuperiorMom says ..."to me holistic eclectic homeschool is combining those philosophies that treat the child as a whole being rather than an empty carton to be filled. waldorf, montessori, piaget, and others are included here. unschooling philosophies fall in this category as well. anything that treats the child as a whole person and meets that childs needs through his head, heart and hands and uses artistic or aesthetic qualities to teach these lessons. combining the elements from these fabulous philosophies to create an individualized learning experience that meets our child's individual learning style and creates a wonderful learning experience falls in here! using multi-cultural stories and hands on activities as well as natural materials alongside mainstream is part of holistic eclectic homeschooling."
Grayce attended Augsburg Park Montessori School (http://www.augsburgpark.com/) for three years, when we lived in Minneapolis and we are *big* fans of APMS and Montessori education. Still, I didn't want to be spending all my time making Montessori materials and when I started researching homeschooling styles and curriculum choices I found that I was drawn to a wide variety of secular philosophies, resources and curriculums. Pieces of each resonated with my desire to provide my children with a unique, literature, nature and arts-based school experience. I wanted it to be multicultural. I wanted it to by rhythmical. I wanted to draw our everyday experiences here in India into our "classroom" and draw our classroom out into our everyday lives. I wanted it to be respectful of my children's differing needs, of their humanity, and their wholehearted joy. I wanted it to be child-centered and child-led. And spiritually oriented without being Religious. I wanted it to be flexible, to foster cooperation and peaceful living and thoughtfulness and creativity. I wanted to read really great stories! I wanted to do a lot of art! To go to the park if we felt like it! To drink coffee in my pajamas while the kids played every morning! But, I also didn't want to feel constrained by dogma. Cuz' dogma tends to suck the living, breathing, metamorphical life out of pretty much anything. Cuz' dogma gives me hives...
Understand that these are my High Ideals and Tall Orders. In actuality, we are having a great time just getting to know one another in a different way. We don't sit around congratulating ourselves for our choices. Some days I lament them. Some days I dream that the bus pulls up right to our front door! And whisks the children far, far away while I have lunch and a pedicure or at least a moment in the bathroom, alone. Perfect days which embody ALL of the above have happened only...never. But there isn't a single day where my child cries and tells me she hates school and doesn't know anything. Nobody is spanking my preschooler for hiding under a table. We all make our share of mistakes, we all have moments of frustration that accompany the great parts...but the kids are learning and having fun and so am I. We're committed to these moments, this space in time...school outside the home may be in their future....or maybe not.
The other day, I called them in from a "play break" and I heard a chorus of "Awww, Mom...we're playin' ancient history!" I looked outside to see Owen trying to make a fire with two rocks...he'd painted red mud on his face and arms. Grayce had pieces of palm leaves all over her hair and body, "This is the ancient culture of Treetola...it's older than Mesopotamia and used to be where Minnesota is today." Owen mutters..."I gotta get this fire started so we can cook our panther," looks up at me and notes, "don't worry mama, I won't start a real fire without a grown up" and goes back to his work.
I got myself a second cup of coffee, put my feet up and smiled. Guess they're learning something.
Playing and Schooling, in India